I am in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, halfway through a crossing from Europe to North America (Lisbon to Miami precisely). Tonight I decided to have dinner by myself on the pool deck of Seabourn Ovation, my current assignment.
The night is surprisingly balmy. No need for the puffer vest and wool socks I expected I would be wearing. No need for the blankets and heat lamps they provide when the weather is colder. After some lovely wine and a bit of dinner, I sank into one of those states where I just wanted to be there right then, totally, while at the same time reflecting on how I got here, and what lies ahead. Sometimes I think “living in the moment” is most satisfying when past and future come to the rich party in my head.
I have a friend joining me in Miami whom I have known since my twenties, when we taught together at San Diego State University. She has known me since before I finished my Ph.D., in the time when my two toddler sons were “helping” me type my dissertation. How in the world could I have predicted that a graduate degree in English would lead to the life I have now? It was hard enough to imagine how I could make it to my seventies, but here I am.
It’s an odd feeling to realize that I am in the middle of the Atlantic, on a speck of a ship. After dinner I came back to my room and sat on the veranda in the dark listening to the waves. They roar to a crescendo as they throw out their white spume, then hiss away into nothing as the next one takes their place. I see our movement, but the sea is so vast I can almost hear it laughing. It has us in its grip and it is letting us pass. We only think we are important. It can wipe away our arrogance as it wills. Or flirt with us with its most radiant beauty, as this morning ( photo here).
I am utterly content with my life right now. I am not sure I could ever have said that so heartily in the past. Yes, I have loved a lot of chapters in my life, but they came with burdens I still remember. Now everything I own is either with me right now, or in a storage locker in Victoria. Except for my car, parked in the condo garage of friends, I have no other possessions or responsibilities and I even sometimes think the car has to go. The people I love and who love me back are with me in spirit, and I see many of them as often now as I did when I lived closer. Everything I do, I am doing with unprecedented confidence. I am gliding through my life, much as this beautiful ship slips through the water tonight.
So I guess the reason tonight resonates so much is that it reminds me of how small my footprint now is, but how much energy this life in flux gives me. I am moving away from the wake of what has been and toward whatever lies ahead. The ship vibrates with the power of the waves, and I feel it in my bones.